Thinking of buying a Leica R lens - price is an issue

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by starvy, Nov 22, 2012.

  1. I am thinking about picking up one of the cheaper standard Leica R lenses and adapting it for use with an older DSLR.
    I have only ever used very old Leica lenses in my Bessa R rangefinder systems, mostly uncoated. I use a lot of old equipment and rather like my Zeiss uncoated medium format folders from almost 80 years ago. After repeated use I understand their limitations, quirks and the results they produce. I barely shoot digital these days and have a meagre Sony A100 DSLR. I shoot adapted Minolta and Zeiss lenses using this setup and the results are pleasing for me.
    Manual focusing does not bother me. Manual metering does not bother me. Exposure compensation does not bother me. Not even stop down metering dampens my spirit! If I were to get the cheapest of Leica R lenses and use it on my crop frame DSLR, should be I wowed by Leica's optical quality?
    I won't not be able to afford a digital Leica for a number of years - well, I don't know when. I can only save up and buy one Leica lens so it is important that it would give me something that I can't have at the moment. What is that something? Perhaps the pleasure of using coveted glass and the expectation of slightly better quality that what I get at present. I like the idea of shooting wide open as well!
  2. Not sure. Depends what you are expecting, and where you are coming from. If I were you I would go for a one cam or two cam 50mm Summicron-R (with detachable hood), the later version with the integrated hood is technically a better lens, but on balance shows less "character" as it is better corrected wide open. Shouldn't be too pricey. You could go for any version of the 50mm Summilux f1.4, but that will be much more expensive. Another good choice is the 1st generation 35mm Summicron-R - big and heavy but a great lens. The later version (with integrated hood) is really nice too - kind of like the Canon 35L. Another relative bargain is the 90mm Summicron-R (1 or 2 cam particularly) - whether it is really better than say the Canon 85/1.8 is debatable, but I always liked mine.
  3. I use several Leica-R lenses on my Olympus DSLRs, and the quality of the glass is impressive. I would offer one word of caution, however. Manually focusing the Elmarit-R 28mm on my DSLRs is quite difficult. It works great for zone focusing, and is a very sharp lens. The 50 Summicron and 60 Macro focus much better on the DSLRs.
  4. SCL


    "should be I wowed by Leica's optical quality?" I doubt if you are "picking up one of the cheaper standard Leica R lenses and adapting it for use with an older DSLR." that you will be wowed, one reserves that for the most cherished Leica lenses, not the cheapest. Remember those lenses you are talking about were designed with film in mind, not today's digital sensors - does this matter? Only somewhat, depending on the angle the light hits the sensor - which has been discussed since the age of digital. Many were designed to demonstrate their optimal characteristics (almost) wide open. So, when you bastardize them, IMHO, you may not see those same characteristics as prominently as when used as designed. Having said that, for several years I did use a number of Leica R lenses on a Sigma SD14 which had a modified Leica R mount instead of the Sima mount on it, making using the R lenses a breeze...still had the multiplication factor, but could shoot any aperture in either the manual or AP modes, pluse hd the Foveon sensor - which produced more pleasing colors to my eyes than Bayer sensors. I also used some modified R lenses on my Nikon gear, but preferred the Sigma results. So, bottom line....if you're bottom fishing, don't expect to be wowed, but do expect very good drawing from certain lenses, especially wide open.
  5. I believe there are adapters available for R Leica to Sony and M 4/3. Get one of those and you won't have to bastardize anything. If you don't have a full frame DSLR get a normal to long lens. How about the 60/2.8 macro. That should be fun. Whatever you do, don't waste money altering the Leica R lens.
  6. The R lenses are very, very good. I have one of the early R 50 Summicrons on a little Nikon FG. Smooooooth bokeh, soft at f2, sharpens up nicely, and has that classic Leica 3-D look. I once owned the later Canadian R 50 lens, and while it was sharper wide open, it had rough bokeh. Like you, I shoot old cameras and also love the look of uncoated glass, so it will take some getting used to the high contrast of the coated R lenses. The R 50 and 90 lenses are as economical as you'll find (for Leica gear), and are stellar. How this Leica R IQ translates to digital I don't know, but you'll surely be happy.
  7. Shot of tree w/ my Nikon FG, Leica R 50 lens, and $1 a roll ebait B&W C41 B&W film. Walgreens scan.
  8. I use Leica Elmarit R 19mm lens on my Canon 5DMARK ii, with EOS-R adapter with dandelion chip.
    manual focusing is extremely easy, when in focus, the in focus points will lit up with sound.
    I have tried EOS-R adapter without dandelion chip, focusing with ultra wide angle lens is
    rather difficult without dandelion chip.
    I have also Summicron R50, Summicron R90, Elmarit R90, Telyt R 135/3.4, Vario Elmar 28-70,
    Telyt R 400/6.8, they all work with the same EOS-R adapter with Dandelion chip.
  9. [​IMG]
    Grand Palace, Bangkok
    Leica Elmarit R19, EOS 5DII
  10. I used a Leica M2R film rangefinder camera professionally for years. My favorite lens for it was a 50mm F2 Nikkor. When you get a photograph of the elusive (at the time) Elvis, nobody cares about the lens.
  11. Wayne, I don't shoot for anyone else, nor do I want to shoot Elvis, maybe Miles Davis but he is physically dead. So yes, I do care what I shoot with!
    Steve & Martin, thanks for your pictures. I am definitely looking for a good deal on 50, 60 or 90mm R lens!
  12. Starvy,
    Have a look a the Sigma DP2 Merrill if you want a normal lens...modern Japanese Leica.
  13. When I was using Leica R cameras, I had 24, 28, 35, 50, 60, 90, 135, and 180mm lenses. The ones I kept to use on my Nikons are: 90mm Elmarit; 135mm Elmarit; and 180mm APO-Telyt. The 24mm and 28mm Nikkors are just as good as the Leica, so I didn't bother with them. The 35mm Summicron gave me some focusing problems in Nikon mount. No point in keeping the 60 macro, the 55 Micro-Nikkor is just as good. But my 90, 135, and 180 were keepers!
  14. I continue to use my 50mm SUmmicron R and 90mm Elmarit R, both 3 cam, with my D700, after several years. They are not my everyday lenses but I continue to be amazed each time I use them...especially the Summicron...which is probably the finest lens I have ever used (besides my 35mm ASPH Summilux). I paid between $300 and $350 for each of the "R" lenses - to me a great value.
  15. I liked my 35 f2.8 Elmarit-R so much on film that I switched to a full frame DSLR (D700) to keep using it. But it did not seem the same on digital and I converted it back to film. I have read other similar experiences. Maybe this is more of an issue with wide angle lenses.
    I am not sure that all the best R lenses are expensive. The 35 f2.8 elmarit-R, 60 f2.8 macro-elmarit-R, 180 f3.4 Apo-R get outstanding reviews (on film), and the 50 f2 summicron-R and 90 f2.8 elmarit-R very good reviews.
    There are starting to be more reviews on these lenses converted to digital eg at Photozone.
    Adapting to Nikon DSLR's will require surgery on the lens. A reason to go with another DSLR brand. If you must use Nikon, perhaps consider a Zeiss or Voigtlander lens instead.
  16. Anyone have experience using a Elmarit 100mm f/2.8 or 28mm E55 lens converted by Leitax mount for nikon camera. What are the focusing issues that I have read concerning these lenses? I have the Nikon D800E camera and was considering these two lenses. Are they excellent options for use on a DSLR?

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